Free sample chips available from Microchip Technology

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Free sample chips available from Microchip Technology

The sponsors of this year’s Halloween contest are giving away microchips! To score some, go here, register, then choose the product line and device family you’re interested in and click on the orange icons to order free samples. From their press release:

Hey Makers in the United States, UK, Germany, France and Italy… We have the exclusive on some great news from Microchip! Beginning Friday, October 2, you will be able to get free microcontroller, analog and memory samples from That’s right, you don’t even have to pay for shipping and handling! This is a great opportunity to get some parts for your embedded microcontroller project in the Make: Halloween Contest 2009.

Make: Halloween Contest 2009

Microchip Technology Inc. and MAKE have teamed up to present to you the Make: Halloween Contest 2009! Show us your embedded microcontroller Halloween projects and you could be chosen as a winner.

32 thoughts on “Free sample chips available from Microchip Technology

  1. unigamer says:

    Does anyone have any recommendations or suggestions of what to get and what it would be useful for? (I am slightly lost with the options!)

    Personally I’d like something that could be connected to a microcontroller to increase the number of outputs for leds.

    1. Kevin Harrington says:

      If you want a good stand alone processor the dsPIC30f4013 is the fastest and most powerful processor you can get in a DIP package. There is a C compiler for the 16 bit procs (dsPIC, 33 and 24 families) that is free for educational purposes. All chips can be programed using the PICkit 2 (don’t get the 3 it is no good) which is only $30. For more advanced users that can make their own PCB’s the PIC32 family is a powerful MIPS core with some fantastic peripherals including USB Host/device. To address your question specifically, there is the Serial Peripherals section of the analog interface products page. There you will find stuff like MCP23S17 which is a 16 bit spi I/O expander. I would however recommend using the free samples to get a processor, because that IO expander is $.91, and you might as well buy it.

    2. Mike Yancey says:

      > what to get?
      > Does anyone have any recommendations or suggestions of what to get….

      For small projects (VERY FEW pins needed, just something simple and programmable), the 12F508 / 12F509 are great. 8-pins total, of that I think 6 are usable, timer and wake on a pin. 508 has 512 Flash / 25 RAM, 509 has 1024 Flash / 41 RAM bytes.

      The 16F84 is versatile and if you’re building or extending an older, existing project based on one, I believe they’re still available (in the sample list), however the 16F628 is pin-compatible, uses (I think) the same code – just change the target in the assembly language but has more memory, features, etc. Better to build on the 16F628.

      Personally, I’m gonna try a couple of the ones with a built-in USB – the 16C745 or 18F2455, and I’ll have to check if my programmer will handle ’em.

      There are so many, I think you’d have to spend a day or two of complete study of the datasheets to figure out all the differences but these are some basic ones I’ve seen in projects on the internet and that I’ve built projects with.

      Mike Y
      Dallas, Texas

  2. kaisersuzuki says:

    The old bait and switch:

    Your domain or account is not allowed to request samples through the web site. Please visit to purchase your parts.

    Anyone had any success?

    1. mattybojangles says:

      The message above says “Friday, October 2”, which means that you can’t order them yet. Patience, young Grasshopper.

      1. kaisersuzuki says:

        My bad. Need to work on those old reading skills

    2. James says:

      It’s not really a bait-and-switch, there have always been certain restrictions (which perhaps is what they’re relaxing on Friday.)

      From the FAQ:

      “Please note that the online sample site no longer accepts orders from generic ISP accounts such as Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail.”

      I’m still able to grab samples with my existing account (which does not use my gmail address), so you might want to try a company or paid ISP email account when registering.

  3. JJ says:

    Hi, When I add it to my cart, I see a $7 shipping charge. I thought it was fully free?

  4. Simon says:

    I thought Microchip had always offered free samples? A few years ago they sent me five 16F682s as samples when here they were costing $14NZ each in the shops. No shipping charge either. I was very impressed (and haven’t tried it again since I don’t want to abuse a good thing and mess it up for others)!

    1. James says:

      Don’t worry about abusing it; the account keeps track of how many orders you are still allowed to place in a 30 day period (usually 3) and won’t let you make any more once you’ve reached your quota.

      Although not all sample programs are as good about informing you of their limits, they can blacklist you without warning if you overdo it – so being careful about what you order is a good policy in general.

  5. steve blair says:

    Tried registering but kept getting errors after step 1. Tried with firefox and ie. Anyone else having problems?

    1. Anonymous says:

      It worked after changing email (gmail didn’t work).

  6. Philpax says:

    I feel offended that Australia does not recieve any of these free samples. I heard about an incident a couple years back – hasn’t it been enough time to forget about that already?

  7. nullsmack says:

    The email address you are trying to register with is not eligible to order samples online. Please do one of the following:1.Register with an approved business or university email address 2. Visit to purchase parts

    It won’t even let me sign up with my isp email. (I’m not terribly surprised since it’s comcast but still) $7.50 for shipping isn’t a bad deal if it lets me check out without registering but if it doesn’t then I don’t see how this is newsworthy at all if it’s only college and business users. This is the same message I was receiving both before and after Friday Oct 2 so what exactly was suppose to start on that date?

    1. Ben says:

      If you have a personal domain, any email from there works. My domain has no business association but it worked out fine.

      1. nullsmack says:

        Well that worked just fine. Their sample policy is quite nice. I think I should probably take advantage of this before it goes away. What better way to learn these chips and make some neat things with them then this?

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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